MAFB: UFC Fight Night 191 Review
For the first time in a long time, the UK fans haven’t had to fuel themselves with coffee (or booger sugar) to stay awake for some glorious UFC action. Despite a long list of cancelled fights or last-minute replacements, UFC Fight Night 191 was a viciously efficient card. Rather than slogging through a slew of thirteen plus regional level bouts, 191 involved nine match-ups with relevance to the rankings or simply just entertaining fights (I’m looking at you Erosa/Jourdain). It’s a shame about Darren’s demise, but he is too small for Middleweight.
Catch up on the preview and predictions for UFC Fight Night 191 if you haven’t already, and have a good old laugh at our expense.
More interested in number crunching? Find out how each fighter ranked on the Pintsized Interest scale this weekend on MAFB Math: UFC Fight Night 191.
Tom Aspinall vs Sergey Spivak
Aspinall def. Spivak // TKO Round 1 (elbow and punches) Round 1 2:30
In rare circumstances for the UFC match-makers, they have decided that the slow and steady path of development is best for Tom Aspinall. The barren division that is 265lbs has probably influenced their hand, more so when it is unlikely that Aspinall is at the level to compete with fellow prospect, Ciryl Gane, just yet. Sergey Spivak may be a thoroughly limited fighter on the feet, but the Moldovan is a durable, consistent wrestler who was entering off a career win over the ageless, Aleksei Oleinik.
Rather than unloading everything and the kitchen sink during the opening exchanges, as Aspinall opted for against Andre Arlovski, the Salford boy bounced easily just outside of Spivak’s range. Shifting in for short combinations, often limiting himself to a lunging body jab, Aspinall utilised his speed advantage to stay out of the pocket and prevent Spivak from using his reach to counter. After pinning the Moldovan to the cage for the first two minutes, Aspinall predicted a frustrated Spivak blind takedown attempt, creating just enough distance to land several hurtful knees before the finishing elbow. On initial viewing, it appeared to be an early ref stoppage. The cut opened up immediately on Spivak’s eyebrow, however, and left him unable to continue.
Tom Aspinall Analysis and Future
Many expected Aspinall to see off Spivak on the basis of superior physicality alone. While the strength differential was clear in the clinch, and Aspinall’s ease in stuffing Spivak’s sole takedown, the Brit didn’t place a foot wrong during the fight. With masterful distance management and far more efficient pacing than his last fight, there is every reason to believe that Aspinall is genuine in his desires to keep on the path of small, incremental match-ups.
Jumping up the Heavyweight rankings is often a double-edged sword. Sure, if you blast a couple of top-10 guys out, you can walk into a rapid title shot. Yet you then concede your career to having to fight the top Heavyweights for the rest of your stay in the UFC. If Aspinall wants a more durable test and wrestling threat, Ilir Latifi is a decent match-up (especially if Aspinall is forced to fall back on his striking). A step-up in quality, however, would be Augusto Sakai or Tai Tuivasa – dangerous strikers who won’t fall over after the first heavy shot.
Sergey Spivak Analysis and Future
The scrappy Moldovan may not put many bums on seats, but he is the perfect 265lber in a division so reliant upon pot shotting power. While Spivak will likely never amount to more than the wrestling gatekeeper, he is just twenty-six with a growing wealth of experience under his belt. Yes, Oleinik may be ancient, but the Russian has built a career of submitting the fakers at Heavyweight.
The rematch with Tai Tuivasa will eventually have to happen if the Aussie continues on his path of redemption. With Tuivasa tied up with Walt Harris in the meantime, however, Spivak could test another prospect. Tanner Boser’s volume-first striking and relatively porous TDD offers an intriguing match-up. A scalp over another veteran could be gained against Alexander Gustafsson if the Swede ever wishes to return.
Molly McCann vs Ji Yeon Kim
McCann def. Kim // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Molly McCann does not have a style that suggests a long career and healthy retirement. An aggressive front-foot style is entertaining to watch, but this was the perfect match-up for it on the feet. Kim’s 10″ reach advantage all but confirmed that Meatball had to bite down on the gumshield and force her way inside of Kim’s long counter shots. It’s a shame as well because as seen after dropping following the accidental head clash, the Liverpudlian is very handy on the mat.
Aside from dropping the first round, in large part because of the head clash (which at first appeared like a short counter from Kim), McCann never stopped pressuring. While there was the occasional spinning back fist, or short elbow when Kim attempted to clinch, it was largely 4-6 punch combinations of hooks to the head and body. Kim did an excellent job of never fully backing herself onto the cage, but two issues allowed McCann to press safely. No feints meant that the scouser could slip Kim’s telegraphed straight shots and return overhands over the top. Worse yet, throwing almost no kicks meant that McCann’s extended lead leg was never softened. An intercepting knee when McCann found her way into the pocket, or a long push kick to maintain the distance in the first place, all would have been more suitable than fighting McCann’s preferred boxing match.
Molly McCann Analysis and Future
After two comprehensive losses to Taila Santos and Lara Procopio, McCann can rest a little easier after her must-win result over Kim. Securing a Fight of the Night bonus will further cement herself as a staple in the Women’s Flyweight unranked roster. If McCann could actually find a way to utilise her wrestling against stronger opposition, she has the gas tank and volume to grit her way to close decisions.
While the top of Flyweight is unlikely to inspire many fans, such is Valentina Shevchenko’s complete monopoly, there is a lot of fun match-ups to be made amongst the unranked. Gillian Robertson has struggled over her last couple of fights, too willing to sacrifice rounds in search of a hail mary submission off her back. A rematch with the Canadian would be a good yardstick to judge if McCann has developed. If the Liverpudlian wants to jump straight back in against an unbooked opponent, JJ Aldrich is a potential banger. Both ladies prefer to strike, with Aldrich’s technical superiority to be questioned by McCann’s ferocious pressure.
Kim Analysis and Future
Despite the beating received, the $50,000 bonus will help ease the Korean’s wounds. Unfortunately for Kim, she is yet to secure a solid scalp in the UFC (or throughout her career). Beating Nadia Kassem back in 2019, her last win hasn’t exactly aged like a fine wine. The athletic frame is certainly there for Kim to succeed, but at thirty-one, it is unlikely there is the time for necessary improvements or quick-fire match-making to climb the ladder.
Two women in similarly dire situations are both unbooked. Cortney Casey has failed to make a mark in her last two bouts and is approaching a last-chance saloon career fight. If the UFC wants to push a prospect, however, Liana Jojua is also free. Kim would certainly be favoured over the young Georgian, but Kim’s inability to control fights and Jojua’s lethal armbar could be a recipe for disaster.
Pintsized Awards: UFC Fight Night 191
Jack Shore. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you all wanted to see Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett. The Jay Cartwright lookalike did cut the best post-fight promo, but Jack Shore has carved out a 4-0 entry to the UFC. The former Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion has continued to look a menace on the mat while making slow but marked improvements in the stand-up department.
Julian Erosa/Derek Brunson. Brunson’s sweltering wrestling display of course deserves a feature in the category. More surprising was Erosa’s war with Charles Jourdain which saw the veteran find yet another late finish.
Surprise of the Night
Paddy Pimblett. While many of the US viewers may not be too accustomed to Paddy Pimblett, there were shockwaves after the prospect was dropped early by Luigi Vendramini. Anyone who has watched the scouser before, however, is by now well aware of his suicidal stand-up approach.
Fight of the Night
McCann vs Kim. Decent action in a fight that could have easily been a snoozer. Fair play to both ladies dropping their guards and swangin’ n bangin’ for the last twenty seconds.
Finish of the Night
Paddy Pimblett def. Luigi Vendraimini (KO). A comeback knockout after being dropped? That’s the Liverpool way, baby.
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